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In-Store Clinics Eyed as Solution for Primary Care Doctor Shortage

In-Store Clinics Eyed as Solution for Primary Care Doctor Shortage

As the country faces a severe shortage of primary care physicians, as much as 40,000 by the year 2020, the 30,000,000 people who would benefit from the Affordable Care Act will have to get their checkups at Wal-Mart or the local pharmacy to relieve the strain on the overburdened primary care network.

In his article for the Los Angeles Times, author Chad Terhune wrote that in-store clinics will get more attention as consumers experience longer wait times at the doctor’s office when the Affordable Care Act becomes federal law in 2014.


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Pharmacy giant CVS Caremark Corp., Target Corp. and other retailers are aiming to help alleviate the doctor shortage with hundreds of walk-in clinics run by nurses to treat ear infections and other routine ailments and increasingly help people suffering from chronic illnesses. These companies, after struggling to turn a profit from these clinics for the last decade, are now eager to capitalize on an influx of newly insured patients.

These retail clinics will be a welcome solution for the uninsured who have to wait for as long as three hours at county-run medical clinics.


These clinics are already popular with consumers who like the idea of strolling in for care with no appointment seven days a week. They are typically small operations adjacent to the pharmacy where one nurse practitioner may see patients and handle billing. There are no doctors on site.

Because these walk-in clinics allow visits with no appointments any day of the week, people who don’t want to miss work can get care on evening hours or weekends, and at way less cost.


These in-store clinics have performed well thus far. Studies by Rand found that these clinics provide care at costs that are 30% to 40% less than similar care provided at a physician’s office and that the care for routine illnesses was of similar quality.

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